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Sunday, November 28, 2010

how often to ask for updates when you're in the running for a job

A reader writes:

I recently posted my resume to a job board and got a response soon after. The employer (a news director) emailed and asked me to call him, which I did. On the phone he talked about the position and had me complete a quick script writing test, which I emailed back. After submitting it I didn't hear anything from him, and a week later I emailed to ask for an update on the hiring process. He wrote back that they were still looking at candidates and he would contact me if he still needed anything else.

Should I still continue to ask for updates? Yesterday would have marked a week since the first request for an update. I'm trying to use restraint and not contact him again about it until next Wednesday or Thursday. Overall I don't want to appear pushy, but still very much interested.

The thing to do here is not just to contact the employer asking for "an update." That can feel like nagging if you do it more than once, and it's also not as likely to give you particularly useful information.

Instead, you want to ask something more specific -- their timeline for next steps. Say something like this: "Would it be possible for you to give me a sense of your timeline for next steps?"

He will either (a) be vague or (b) give you a timeline for next steps.

If he's vague, it's either because (a) he really doesn't know or (b) he doesn't consider you a top candidate at this point but also not an obvious rejection, so he's waiting to see how the rest of the candidate pool takes form.

If he does give you a timeline for next steps, then you reiterate your interest and then sit tight and wait. If that timeline passes without word from him, then you follow up and say something like this: "I'm really excited about this position and wanted to check in on your timeline." If you want, you can add something like, "If you think I'm a promising candidate, I'd be glad to make myself available for an interview at your convenience."

Also, read this post on employer time versus candidate time and do your best to adjust your time zone.


Anonymous said...

This is great advice. Unfortunately these days most employers don't bother to let you know you didn't get the job even if you try to follow up.

Anonymous said...

From my long period of jobsearching, I learned that other than sending in my thank you notes, there is no point in following up further. The few companies who were interested in hiring me, contacted me whether or not I contacted them. And those who were not interested, I wouldn't hear anything from them either way.

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,

I asked the question above. Thanks for answering AskAManager.

In my nearly long job search only a handful have ever followed up with me, so I understand what the commenters are saying as well. It's very frustrating. Those who responded to me said no of course, but I appreciated their answers so much it numbed the frustration of constant rejection.

Anyway, thanks again!

Kirk Baumann said...

Good post. Following up to just get an "update" is not the best use of that time. You're right - asking for a timeline will help.

It's tough to be patient as a job seeker, because what has only been a week seems like an eternity. Remember, on the flip-side, the recruiter or hiring manager may view this time period as very short. With hundreds, maybe thousands of applicants for each job these days, it's good to remember to practice patience. Wait 10 days, then follow up. Be tenacious, but kind.

Keep up the great work and good luck to those in the job search! AskAManager has great advice. :)

Kirk Baumann
Director of Career Connections

Natalie Loopbaanadvies said...

I am always hesistant to contact a company for to follow up on my application. It's nice to hear that there are questions that I can ask them directly. From their answers, perhaps, I'd be able to read between the lines. :-)

Natalie Loopbaanadvies

Anonymous said...

Companies do not respond to your request for a time line.

They are conducting their own business, which, sadly, does not mean hiring you or anyone else is a priority.

Even if hiring you would help them save time and make more money.

They have forgotten about you, so you should forget about them and focus on getting the next interview.

Ask a Manager said...

Anonymous, some companies do respond. (Others don't.) You don't know which you're dealing with so it's worth trying.

I agree, though, that you shouldn't dwell on them.